Targeting rapidly growing economies like Brazil and Africa, easier visa processes, investing in budget hotels and infrastructure can propel Indian tourism into an increasingly competitive marketplace, says President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).
The recently concluded 29th Annual Convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) held in Kerala threw up discussions and debates on several key factors which are adversely affecting the tourism industry today. Subhash Goyal, President, IATO spoke about how Indian tourism must target new markets like Brazil and Africa, relax visa rules, expand air connectivity, invest in budget hotels and develop infrastructure, which can translate into India as an emerging competitor on an international platform. He said, “Tourism alone can solve India’s problems of foreign exchange and balance of payments, current account deficit, employment, and poverty eradication.”
IATO is the national body of the tourism industry and works with the government on critical issues related to tourism, including facilitation. Established in 1982, IATO has professional ties with international tourism associations in the US, Nepal and Indonesia.
Martin Joseph, Chairman, IATO Goa Chapter who is also the Director of Freedom Holidays, Goa, added, “IATO as a platform helps put a face to stakeholders, hotels, transporters and other service providers to engage with each other and explore possibilities together. IATO members offer end-to-end travel solutions to customers, including customised holiday packages for individuals to group travel arrangements for corporates. So, at times if there are issues with visas, accommodation and air tickets, the IATO swiftly comes together to settle any unforeseen situations and other challenges.”
The theme of this year’s convention was ‘Indian Tourism – Innovation and Partnerships’. With a desire to boost tourism the IATO explained its emerging thrust areas in Indian tourism which focus on safety and cleanliness and how the organization is actively involved in the decision making process at every level, including forging a new partnership between the ministry and several stakeholders. Over 1,200 delegates – senior government officials, tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers and the travel media – from across India made the convention a highly successful event.
When asked about the IATO in Goa, Joseph said, “As IATO Chapter Chairman, I will be ensuring an increase in IATO membership. IATO has had a very positive impact on its members in the state and every member accepts the directives of IATO in letter and spirit as all decisions are in the member’s interest. There are at present 18 members – two Active members and others are Allied members. Active members have to be approved by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India and be in operation for two years. After they have received the approval of the Ministry of Tourism, one can apply for becoming an Active member.
“IATO members offer end to end travel solutions to customers, they offer customized holiday packages for individual customers to group travel arrangements for corporate customers. So there are often visa issues, accommodate issues, air ticket issues, surface, transportation. As the IATO Chairman, in consultation with head office in Delhi, best efforts are made for quick settlement and to ensure that the business of our members is protected. So IATO has to have not only a good relationship with industry partners but also with the government sector to tide over unforeseen situations. It is the team efforts that matters and IATO is known for its team effort on all issues and challenges as they may arise from time to time,” he concluded.
Photo caption: Subhash Goyal, president, IATO with chief guest G. A. Mir, Tourism Minister of Jammu and Kashmir; IATO chapter heads and members at the 29th IATO Annual Convention held in Kochi, Kerala.